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Lead simple lives, don’t use pilot cars except on NH: Mamata Banerjee

Banerjee also directed them to stop using pilot cars with red beacons anywhere in the state, except on highways, and advised them to be “very careful” while signing official document, an official said.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (File)

WEST BENGAL Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday cautioned every minister in her Cabinet that they should lead a “simple life.” Banerjee also directed all her ministers to stop using pilot cars with red beacons anywhere in the state, except on highways, and advised them to be “very careful” while signing any official document, a senior official here said.

The fresh directives from Banerjee are being seen as an attempt to rebuild the image of her government, which received back-to-back jolts following the recent arrests of senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mondal.

Addressing the first meeting of the state Cabinet following the recent reshuffle, Banerjee said her department would fix separate tasks for the ministers of state, who till date had “very few responsibilities” to carry out.

People should not question the public life of a minister, Banerjee said during the meeting. “The BJP is looking for loopholes [in the TMC government’s functioning]. You [ministers] should all maintain a simple life and should not avail yourselves of any extra facility. If you do, the people will not see it as normal.”

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A senior minister said, “Didi [Banerjee] pulled up our senior minister Jyotipriya Mallick for his lifestyle. He is also facing allegations in connection with a cattle-smuggling case. The Chief Minister told him on Thursday, “Why am I getting complaints against you? I am warning you: No more complaints against you should come to me in future.” She directed Mallick to maintain a “clean image,” the minister said.

Sources in the administration said the CM also told her ministers that they should concentrate on completing existing projects rather than taking up new projects.

However, CPI (M) leader Sujan Chakraborty criticised the CM’s approach. In a veiled reference to Mamata’s nephew and TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, he said on Thursday, “State ministers will not use red beacons [on vehicles] now but there is one MP. Often, when he travels to or from the Kolkata airport, his pilot car and convoy hold up traffic at the ‘Maa’ flyover. What will happen to him now?”

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Partha Chatterjee, who held the industry portfolio, was sacked as minister and suspended from the TMC following his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last month in connection with the probe into a school recruitment scam.

The CM, however, publicly backed Anubrata Mondal after his arrest in connection with a cattle smuggling case. Banerjee recently said that she would stand with the party strongman and announced that the TMC would “launch a movement” against alleged excesses of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI.

First published on: 19-08-2022 at 02:26:01 am
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